Despite the daunting challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to small to medium-scale businesses, several Filipino-American-owned eateries and groceries in Bakersfield, California have shown resiliency while continuing to serve the community and promote Filipino culture and cuisine.
This was the observation made by Philippine Consul General Edgar Badajos when he visited at least four of the major Filipino-oriented businesses in Bakersfield on August 13, 2021 as part of the consulate’s outreach mission.
Accompanied by Jun Rivera, President of Filipino Community of Bakersfield & Vicinity, Inc. and other consulate officials, Badajos visited the Umaga Cafe, Philippine Cuisine, Magat Asian Grocery and Deli, and Jollibee.
During the visit, the Filipino-American business owners shared the struggles and challenges they had to grapple with as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as reductions to business operations, financial shortfalls, and delayed or insufficient supply of products from the Philippines.
Nevertheless, they affirmed their common desire to use their enterprises to promote a better understanding and appreciation of Filipino culture and cuisine among the residents of Bakersfield.
Badajos commended the entrepreneurs for their determination and creativity in coping with and rising above the pandemic’s challenges.
While in Bakersfield, the Consul General also met City of Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh to discuss a possible partnership between an educational institution in the Philippines and the California State University (CSU).
Located about 110 miles north of Los Angeles, Bakersfield is home to about 11,000 overseas Filipinos based on the latest US census.
The two officials likewise explored the prospects of hiring special education teachers and medical professionals from the Philippines given the availability of job opportunities for these specific professions in Bakersfield.
“I wish to take this opportunity to commend your leadership during the CoViD-19 pandemic, particularly in looking after the health, safety and welfare of over 11,000 Filipinos in your City,” Badajos told Mayor Goh during their meeting.
The Consul General assured the mayor that he will establish a line between the appropriate government institutions in the Philippines and the City of Bakersfield to initiate discussions on the possible employment opportunities for Filipino professionals.